Edspresso: Debate Over Standardized Testing
Edspresso has had an ongoing debate about standardized testing all week. Dana Rapp is not a fan of testing; Richard Phelps is. I’ve been following their discussion with great interest.
Says Dana Rapp:
"Before I moved to Vermont in 2002, I lived in Ohio where standardized
tests and national frameworks created environments where recess was
eliminated, teachers’ salaries were linked to test scores, children
became ill during testing, teachers’ job satisfaction waned, and,
ironically, less appeared to be learned."
"Testing is a booming market where companies like McGraw-Hill and
Harcourt-Brace are reaping record profits with the sale of the
textbooks, tests, practice tests, and improvement kits.
Schooled-to-order children force-fed on scripted curriculum also
benefit big business. As testing proceeds to earlier grades, even
kindergarten, CEO’s and industrial “leaders” can rest even more assured
that future employees will not have the skills, knowledge,
dispositions, and collective consciousness to recognize and act to
change disparities of wealth, loss of jobs, lack of health care, and
corporate corruption in the organizations in which they work."
He avers that standardized testing has "dehumanized" schools and has led to an increase in "sales of anxiety, depression, and attention drugs for children."
I am none too keen on standardized tests myself. I think the need to teach to the test can suck the joy out of learning and shift a student’s experience from connecting to cramming. Not always, not across the board, but in many, many cases. And being good at taking tests doesn’t necessarily mean you are good at thinking. Or remembering, once the test is over.
Rapp’s point about testing becoming a lucrative business is one that had never occurred to me. Interesting to contemplate.
Phelps responds with a reminder that "the U.S. Constitution grants (by deference) responsibility for education to our country’s original founding entities, the states."
"State executives and legislators have the right, and the
responsibility, to determine education policy. By implementing
high-stakes testing programs, state officials are being responsive to
their constituents, who strongly favor such programs."
Really? I’m asking seriously. I’ve never seen data on that question, it occurs to me. Are most average joes really in favor of standardized testing? Is the increase in reliance on testing REALLY a response to what the constituency desires?
You, for example. Reading this blog. Are you an advocate of standardized testing? Not all of you are homeschoolers, and I’m curious to know what you think. (I can hazard a guess as to the opinion of most home educating parents, but even there I don’t presume to KNOW.)
"The fact is," says Phelps, "standardized testing programs are an expression of
democracy. If the public was strongly opposed to them, politicians
would be, too, regardless what corporate executives might want."
Hmm. I don’t know about that. I guess it depends on what "strongly opposed" means. I don’t think this is an issue that the public spends a lot of time worrying about, and unless the public starts marching in the streets ("No more tests!"), I don’t think politicians are going to pay too much attention to what the "public" thinks.
You can read the rest of the debate as it unfolds at Edspresso.